27 Activists To Follow On Twitter Right Now

by Joseph D. Lyons
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Glance at anyone's status updates about this past year, and you'll see the verdict is in: 2016 has pretty much sucked. Perhaps there were some bright spots, but the overall picture is lunar deathscape gray. Still, remember when politics wasn't all doom and gloom? These are the activists to follow on Twitter in 2017 because in this time and place, we truly need them.

There's no need to beat around the bush here. These voices are more necessary than ever thanks to Donald Trump and his incoming administration. The entire Cabinet he has proposed is against the very progress that these people are working for. And Trump himself is against the media, attacking it any time they put forward views that contradict his own. We can hope that the press corps continue to cover opposing views, but Twitter could become the key place to connect to truly progressive viewpoints, as well as for the attempts at organizing protests or other types of resistance. So sign into your account, and get ready to hit "follow."

1) Cherno Biko

Cherno Biko is worth following for many reasons, not just for her insightful look at 2016. Biko is a trans woman who quit her job to bring attention to the plight of many transgender women of color, especially those whose deaths were not high-profile. Her message: black trans lives matter, too.

2) Alicia Garza

Speaking of Black Lives Matters, Alicia Garza is one of the three co-founders of the movement. There are lot of work to do, and she's hoping that your follow turns into activism. "What it takes to get people from liking and sharing and retweeting to organizing is a hard and long process," Garza told The Guardian.

3) Opal Tometi

Opal Tometi is another Black Lives Matters co-founder. Her tweets are insightful and her connections to the Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights brings an international focus to many of her arguments. Take this excerpt of an interview she gave to The Nation to get an idea of her powerful message:

Black Lives Matter is really an affirmation for our people. It’s a love note for our people, but it’s also a demand. We know that the system was not designed for justice for us ... We know that nearly half of the incarcerated population is black people. We know that 50 percent of women who are incarcerated are black women. We don’t want to reinforce a system that is actually designed to lock up our people. We actually need to push a more profound question around the structures that are oppressing our people.

4) Patrisse Cullors

The queer, third, and final co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors also has had an international focus to her tweets as of late and is focused on finding a strategy against fascism, which she argues is the direction many Western countries are headed.

5) Dan Savage

Dan Savage, considered by many as a sex columnist, tweets about far more than that. A brilliant, sardonic wit helps Savage make progressive points on a number of issues on LGBTQIA rights and beyond. His staff at The Stranger has also promised to be a voice in the fight against Trump's right-wing policies.

6) Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is another familiar name on the list, and that's because she's been a feminist activist for decades. This isn't the first Republican administration she's organized against, and she's a great resource — including on Twitter — for the next generation.

7) Gabe Ortíz

Tweeting about a ton of intersectional issues, Gabe Ortíz is someone you have to follow. He's dedicated in his professional life to immigrants' rights, but his tweets run the gamut and are sure be truthful and honest no matter who's honest. His promise? "In 2017 I promise to keep pissing off my haters."

8) Shelby Knox

An organizer and activist, Shelby Knox is a must-follow feminist. She's connecting anti-Trump thinkers online and sharing important resources. Originally from Texas, she's got a lot of insight into the abstinence-only, religious right that progress is up against.

9) Amanda Quraishi

Amanda Quraishi is a Muslim feminist activist from Texas. She blogs about politics, Muslim-Jewish engagement, and digital activism. And she's a big fan of tacos — a definite follow.

10) Janet Mock

Another key transgender activist is Janet Mock. She's written and produced trans issues into cultural consciousness of many by sharing her own story. One recent can't-miss project is her HBO Documentary The Trans List.

11) Peter Staley

Peter Staley got his start as an AIDS activist in groups like ACT UP, which fought for government funding for HIV research and access to anti-retroviral drugs. His days of activism may be more of a resource than ever imagined. And he's not afraid to get into it with Democratic politicians.

12) Jose Antonio Vargas

One of the key voices of the DREAMers, Jose Antonio Vargas is not afraid to take a stand for what is right. Trump's presidency could endanger those who currently benefit from President Obama's DACA program — a reality Vargas is familiar with since he was too old to qualify for the program to give immigrants who arrived as children work papers. In 2014, after attending a vigil in Texas for unaccompanied minors, he was apprehended at the border by immigration authorities, and he remains without a path to citizenship or even legal residency. And he's very vocal about it, including on Twitter.

13) Feminista Jones

Feminista Jones is very active on Twitter, and her tweets are a mix of the day-to-day with some really insightful stuff. Her views tend to make you think, and they're always backed up by facts. Take her argument to keep Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill as an example. She'll make you think.

14) Chelsea Clinton

Her mom may have lost the election, but Chelsea Clinton remains a voice amplifying women from around the world and the fight for gender equality. Through her work at the Clinton Foundation, she is sure to remain engaged in the issues that she and her parents have championed since Bill left the White House.

15) Dr. Adrienne Keene

The No DAPL protests have been successful — at least, it seems so for now — but there are many more issues facing Native Americans around the United States. Dr. Adrienne Keene is a Cherokee Nation professor and active Twitter user. Follow her to learn things from the past and present about our country's relationship with and treatment of Native Americans. For example, "December 26, 1862: Abraham Lincoln hanged 38 Dakota men in Mankato, MN. The largest mass execution in US history." I sure didn't known that, and we really should.

16) Jessica Pierce

Jessica Pierce is training the next wave of black leaders in her role as national co-chair of Black Youth Project 100, utilizing "a Black queer feminist lens." Pierce posts about it a lot on Twitter, in addition to posts about her life that you can surely relate to.

17) Favianna Rodriguez

Favianna Rodriguez is an artist and activist tweeting her artwork, articles, and thoughts about the progressive world that she'd like to see come to be.

18) Lena Dunham

Perhaps activist is not the first word you think of associated with Lena Dunham, but she has shown time and again that she is. Her art, Lenny Letter, and Twitter account are all avenues to further her version of feminism. Take the recent controversy over her abortion comments as proof that she's always pushing the conversation along.

19) Janet Murguía

Another key voice against any potential Trump mass deportation plan will be Janet Murguía. She's the president of National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights organization in the country. "Our economy would lose millions of dollars if DACA is eliminated. The social cost would be incalculable," she tweeted just before the holidays. These are the kinds of truths we must be reminded of.

20) Bill McKibben

Given Trump's picks for the EPA, Department of Energy, and even State Department make it clear we need to be worried about Mother Earth too. Bill MicKibben is a big-time environmental activist. He won't let us forget the importance of fighting climate change, even if the president isn't sure it exists.

21) April Reign

The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag took Twitter by storm, and it all began with April Reign, one of the leading voices of Black Twitter. She won't be afraid to tell it like it is regarding Trump: "Trump seems more concerned about one day: his Inauguration party, than the four years that follow. Which proves it's all for show. God help us all."

22) Mariame Kaba

Anti-prison activist Mariame Kaba has long focused on fighting the prison-industrial complex in the United States, as well as violence against minority communities. She's also focused on national politics, and is arguing that Democrats have to obstruct the Trump agenda — but that they only will if pushed by the public.

23) Prerna Lal

Prerna Lal is an attorney at the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program and the East Bay Community Law Center. Her tweets and activism regularly are focused on immigration. Originally from Fiji, she was in removal proceedings until the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and she could get papers through her partner.

24) Delores Huerta

The rights of workers could become a target under Trump: His pick to head the Department of Labor is a critic of raising the minimum wage. Dolores Huerta has spent her life organizing migrant farmworkers. We can learn plenty from her.

25) Linda Sarsour

A Palestinian American from Brooklyn, Linda Sarsour is a Muslim, feminist, racial justice, and civil rights activist. She works as the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and is active on Twitter, sharing her activism freely with her followers.

26) Danielle Muscato

This activist came to fame on Twitter for that epic Trump bashing. Danielle Muscato has more focuses than just Trump, though: She's passionate about trans rights, animal welfare, and abortion access.

27) Chris Goldstein

Depending on how bad things do get in 2017, Chris Goldstein's cause may become more important than ever. He's working to legalize recreational marijuana use nationwide.

When you reconnect to social media after your holiday break, go through and follow these individuals. These are just some of the huge number of activists across the United States that are worth engaging with and listening to — and not just online. Plug yourself in and you'll have plenty to be grateful for this time next year, even if Trump's president.